Headaches, body aches, fever, cough, sore throat, chills, fatigue, nausea—the list of symptoms for the flu continues.
Jack Frost has not only brought the cold temperatures this season but the flu as well, causing students and faculty to miss class and stay at home.
Paige Pickett, a registered nurse for Tech Health Services, said just as every year, the flu is spreading rapidly this season.
“It has been steady at the health center since we have returned from break, but it has not been overwhelming,” she said. “We are hoping it stays that way, but according to Centers for Disease Control, it is going to be a bad year.”
Patrick Hindmarsh, assistant professor of biological sciences, said this year’s influenza season began earlier than past flu seasons.
“Flu season usually peaks in February; whereas, this year there has been an unseasonal increase in influenza cases in December,” he said. “In addition the strain of influenza that is circulating, H3N2 tends to have increased upper respiratory infections that result in more hospitalizations than previous flu seasons.”
The Tech Health Center has given approximately 50 flu shots this season compared to their usual of approximately 200 flu shots per year.
“I have sent out reminders several times,” Pickett said. “Unfortunately, a lot of students wait until a friend has it before they receive one, and it’s usually too late.”
Hindmarsh said getting vaccinated is key, as well as washing your hands with an alcohol-based hand wash and covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
“If you are infected it is important to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or into your elbow when you cough or sneeze,” he said. “If you cough or sneeze into your hand you can spread the virus to surfaces and other people.”
Neil Watkins, a junior biology major, said he has recently experienced the flu at its full force.
“At first, it does not seem like you are sick with it,” he said. “Once the minor symptoms start you would only assume it is sinuses or a cold; it is not until the full-on flu symptoms hit that you realize you have it.”
Watkins said he never thought he would catch the sickness and then it snuck up on him and it was terrible.
“Because it is airborne, it can be transmitted through coughs, sneezes or by virus particles on the skin, especially hands,” Pickett said.
Scott Levin, an associate professor of English, recommend students to carry hand sanitizer and wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day.
“We are in contact with so many people a day and those people are in contact with others and so on,” Watkins said. “It is just so easily spread.”
Though the flu is not 100 percent preventable, there are precautions people can take to lessen the chance of catching the virus.
Pickett said she advises everyone to first get the flu shot, and second, wash your hands constantly throughout the day.
Watkins said the flu shot helps; however, the way we take care of ourselves also plays a large role in whether we catch the virus.
“I had constantly been going nonstop and not allowing myself time to rest and not taking vitamins, so my immune system became vulnerable,” he said. “That is the reason I caught the virus, and it could be true of others as well.”
Pickett said young children and the elderly are more prone to catch the flu because of their weak immune system, but if college students are not taking the right precautions, they can get it just as easily.
“The flu has spread so rapidly this year because a lot of people have the same problem I had,” Watkins said.
“There are not enough people taking care of themselves the way they should and putting other things before their own health and the health of others.”
“I had it from a Friday night, until the following Tuesday afternoon,” he said. “The worst part or parts are the aches and fever, which would wake me up every other hour in the night.”
If the flu is not bad enough alone, it can lead to other health issues as well.
“The flu virus is worse than the cold virus in that complications can be serious or fatal,” Pickett said.
“Secondary infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, etc. can also occur.”
Tech Health Services offers flu shots to all students for only $20 between the times of 7:30– 11:30 a.m. and 1– 3:30 p.m. in order to keep the flu off campus.
“The flu is no joke,” Watkins said. “It was a very unpleasant time, so take care of your body and take the right precautions to avoid the virus.”
Email comments to alm...@latech.edu.